The National Coalition for Palestine (NC4P) has described Saturday’s march to Parliament, as the biggest and most diverse in the countries history. More than 100 000 pro-Palestinian supporters from all walks of life gathered in the City CBD, in condemnation of Israel’s brutal campaign against the people of Gaza.
The march was organised by the NC4P, to motivate government to take urgent steps towards severing all ties with the state of Israel. A petition, calling on government to discuss the issue within parliament, was accepted by ANC MP Mandla Mandela, the grandson of former president Nelson Mandela.
NC4P spokesperson, Reverend Edwin Arrison, hailed the diversity amongst those who came out to the march, noting that people from all sectors of society, and different religious backgrounds had come together for one united purpose.
He expressed confidence the march would have the desired impact, noting the numbers of government representatives that were present to accept the memorandum.
“We had a commitment from Chief Mandla Mandela that he would take matters forward. But of course it’s only one step within many thousands of different steps, so this week we will formally follow up with parliament about the petition that we handed to them,” he explained.
Despite the enormous success of the march, Rev Arrison said it was vital that the community kept up its pressure, both on government and in regards to the boycott of companies with trade ties to Israel. He made special mention of the boycott against retail outlet Woolworths, who have been accused of refusing to remove Israeli products from its shelves.
“When people ask me what do they should do, I say focus on the boycott of Woolworths for the moment. We will come back to you with guidance about other shops, but for the moment we really want people to focus on that,” he said.
Reiterating the South African narrative on the issue, he recalled the attitude of the Western governments towards the Apartheid regime. He accused them of taking a similar stance against the Palestinian people, by turning a blind eye towards any discussions on the conflict.
He also addressed the arrest of five picketers who were accused of staging an illegal protest at the Sea Point Pavilion. He noted the group were not part of the NC4P. However he gave them the full backing of the NC4P.
“There are certain actions and planned by the NC4P, the march was that. Yesterday’s picket was not that. But in any case, when people’s rights are trampled on, we will support them,” he said. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)